A huge drop in coal exports could cost the Hunter Valley $2 billion.
The McCloskey Coal report outlines a decrease of nearly 15% in Newcastle’s coal exports, blaming a combination of mine problems and the fall in demand from Japan after its natural disasters, according to The Newcastle Herald.
On top of this, the report also stated that coal miners are likely to be hit with ‘take or pay’ contracts that add an extra $10 per tonne or around $150 milion annually unless lost sales are financed.
Figures for Port Waratah Coal Services’ terminals exports in May showed coal at only two thirds of the forecast rate.
In addition many mines in the Hunter are facing problems caused by water flooding into open puts, with Xstrata’s Blakefield South underground coal mine still shut after a fire ripped through it earlier this year.
Methane gas igniting at the mine’s longwall is believed to be behind the fire.
Xstrata attempted to re-open the mine in March, with little success.
An Xstrata spokesman told the Herald that small amounts of coal were coming from its previously flooded Ulan mine but nobody had been back underground at Blakefield since the blast.
Image: A longwall at Xstrata’s Beltana coal mine in the Hunter Valley.